This couple’s intergalactic photo shoot is just part of living a ‘Star Wars’ life

The Force has always been with these adorable nerdy lovebirds.

Admit it: You’ve tried to use the Force in real life before. If you’re one of the people who’d love to make Star Wars a part of your own world, you can take a lesson from Ruth and Justin O’Donnell. The Connecticut couple loves the franchise so much they staged a fabulous Star Wars wedding shoot in conjunction with The Force Awakens—a few years after their real marriage.

Tim Souza

According to the shoot photographer, Tim Souza, the O’Donnells are “avowed nerds” who met in a creative writing class during college—but Star Wars fandom united them long before then. 

“One of the things that drew me to Justin when we became friends was that he got all my Star Wars and sci-fi references,” Ruth told the Daily Dot in an email. “Not everyone can communicate on that level.”

Justin, who’s currently working his debut novel as his thesis for a master’s degree in writing, cut his teeth dreaming up Star Wars fanfiction, while Ruth spent her teen years reading fanfic and Star Wars novels. “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I had read something Justin wrote years before we met in college,” she said.

Justin spent years active in the Star Wars Galaxies MMORPG, while Ruth spent her teen years recreating Leia’s and Padme’s outfits and hairstyles.

“Justin and Ruth always wanted a fantasy Star Wars wedding shoot, so this was a dream come true,” Souza told the Daily Dot in an email.  

Tim Souza

Tim Souza

Tim Souza

By day, Justin and Ruth work at the same engineering and manufacturing firm in Danbury, Connecticut. The couple married several years ago in Newport, Rhode Island, but traveled to Virginia for the wedding shoot this year in order to involve their friends and family. The shoot took place at the arched passageways and striking interiors of the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington, D.C. 

Justin’s mother, Ella O’Donnell, owns a floral design store in Manassas, Virginia, and contributed the floral art for the shoot. A local Virginian jewelry artisan, Amy Pugh, created original designs for the wedding party’s headpieces, necklaces, and arm cuffs. Meanwhile, Ruth, who watched the original Star Wars trilogy when she was just 10, told us she had tried to “channel Padme’s overall hair and clothing style in Episode II” for the photo shoot.

Tim Souza

Tim Souza

Tim Souza

Tim Souza

Tim Souza

Tim Souza

The original members of the wedding party couldn’t come together, but other friends stood in as maid of honor and best man. The new wedding party even lucked out with a friend willing to wear Justin’s new Kylo Ren costume for the shoot.  

Tim Souza

Tim Souza

This wasn’t the first time Justin’s relatives had chipped in to help him live a Star Wars life. For his 21st birthday, his father, mother, and sister dressed up as Darth Vader and two storm troopers and surprised him at college during a soccer game. Justin (and the confused friends who attempted to join in the fight) had no idea who he was dueling with underneath Darth’s mask. In the video of the surprise, Justin’s fight with Vader starts around 3:00; at 4:00, the Sith Lord announces that he is Justin’s… well, we wouldn’t want to spoil it. 

Naturally, it was only fitting that Justin’s father reprise his role as Darth Vader in the photo shoot.

Tim Souza

Tim Souza

Tim Souza

When they’re not using the Force, Justin has dreams of one day writing Star Wars tie-in novels, while Ruth has interests in modeling. “In my free time I enjoy reading, working out, and any chance to dress up like a Star Wars princess,” she said.  

“They both dream of traveling the world and writing their own stories,” Souza told us, “hopefully inspiring more young people to chase their dreams, even if those dreams involve a galaxy far, far away.”

Photo courtesy of Tim Souza

Aja Romano

Aja Romano

Aja Romano is a geek culture reporter and fandom expert. Their reporting at the Daily Dot covered everything from Harry Potter and anime to Tumblr and Gamergate. Romano joined Vox as a staff reporter in 2016.

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